Skip to content

Our teachers need counselling first.

July 4, 2013

I did not want to include personal issues in my blog but recent two incidents made me change my mind.

We were kind of shocked sometime ago when our son flunked an easy math paper in his semester exams.  Not that he passes every other exam with distinction but at least he’s managed to keep his head above water all the time.  So this is like a very first that will unfortunately go into history of his arrears which could have been avoided with a little care.  It was not a high-scoring exam anyway and those who passed it had hardly made it to 60-70% range.  My son applied for revaluation/recounting of his paper (that gives access of valued papers to students) when he found to his surprise that he had still managed to score 40% marks in the paper where scoring was estimated to be tight.  Which means his math professor had given him essentially a mark less than 10 in college internals.  Even if the professor had given him a 10 mark out of the allotted 20, my son could have cleared the exam in the border.  An internal mark in single digit totally stunned us all alike because we believe,  it is untoward of a teacher to take his wrath out on an unsuspecting pupil like this.

(My son’s papers are for 100 marks out of which 20 marks are ear-marked for college internals to be awarded by the teaching faculty.  The theory plus practical papers account for the rest 80%.   In case of mathematics as the practical component is not there, the theory constitutes about 80%  of total scoring pattern.   A pass requires a minimum of 50% in each paper.  From consulting his friends in the class and with other university students attending different colleges my son found that on average the internal mark awarded for each student was minimum 15-16 even if the student was an average one across the board.  The high-achievers bagged 19-20).

I wonder therefore what crime my teenage son committed to earn such a poor internal mark as awarded by his faculty.  He skipped classes?  He was not listening when the lecture session was on?  He did not fare well in class tests?  He did not show respect to the teaching staff?

By no means is he a dull-head and by no means is he a criminal.  Just an average teenager with a happy disposition who loves playing pranks and making merry.

Class tests are not taken seriously but i guess this is a forgivable offence – or atleast its not so criminal that a student has to be awarded an internal mark in single digit to ensure he FAILS in the university exam if that can help… sadly….  Over all,  the records and the attendance also have to be taken into account besides the students’ internal tests.  By the way in what way are internal tests the benchmark?  Its pretty easy for students to cheat in class tests if they want to, so how reliable are class test grades as a measure of students’ academic performance during the term?  (Later my boy confided that he did not get along well with the said professor that explains everything).

All that the boys and girls are having is harmless fun.  Its their life after all.  They will neglect their books to their own peril.

By the time a college student gets to the second year, he or she will be 18, a major – an adult.  So does he or she not have his/her own responsibilities?

Wouldn’t a college faculty think the way we parents do? After all most of the teaching staff are middle-aged with grown-up kids at home probably.  So they must know better.  Even the younger ones can have an easy understanding when it comes to student psychology because compared to parents, the younger teaching staff are in a closer age-bracket with the students.  My son claims most of the faculty is rather young so it can’t be difficult for them to feel the pulse of GenNext.

Who says the teenagers are reckless?  I am looking at a  dozen teenage friends of my son – both boys and girls, they are all happy-go-lucky but they are also highly ambitious; more ambitious somewhat than what we parents could have been in that age frankly.  Again its their life, don’t they know about staying focused in this most important phase of their lives.  They are all much much smarter than we ever were in their age.  Very tech-savvy, better informed than we parents ever were.  Give the guys a break!  They have been working hard in school to get into the right university and ever since they are writing semesters every six months!

But failure has taught my son most valuable lessons in life that we parents can never impart,  in a way:

1.  For the first time in his life my son is exposed to ugliness of fellow humans – most of all of his own trusted faculty.  That humans could have such an inner cunning and vengeance seems to have come as a shock for him.  Overnight my boy became an adult is all i can say.  Knows now how important it is sometimes to keep a low profile and how even more important it is NOT  to antagonize people with POWER – the power to destroy you.  Or atleast its put him on guard.

2. The failure in itself is good.  So far my son has not flunked any paper right from Kinder Garten and was getting a bit over-confident.  I have always felt he needed a good ‘brake’ in tracks so he can learn his true bearings.  So its good that for once he feels low even if it was highly disappointing for us parents.  For upto a week my boy’s face fell  and he went without a word, taking the loss with dignity.  Then he came out of it on his own and started studying right away for his next semester exam putting the arrear paper in the back-burner of his mind.  He found the right balance by himself coming to terms with reality.  The failure did not defeat him, rather he has learned to accept it as part and parcel of life.  He recently attempted the arrear subject again and says he’ll clear it in flying colours.  (As a mother my concern is that failure should not become a habit, so too much complacence is no good either!)

3.  Now my boy is more than determined to see that there is no repeat of the sordid episode in future.  He is also wiser now like he knows now why he must never bank upon internal marks to give him a lifeline when it comes to securing his pass in a semester exam. He is preparing for each subject keeping this vital fact in mind.  Suddenly he has learned NOT TO TRUST ANYTHING OR ANYONE than himself which makes me happy and sad at the same time.

4.  As a parent this is what i used to tell my son about driving:  ‘its not enough if you drive right; anticipate others’ errors and stay prepared.’  The law is universal equally applicable to all facets of human life.

5.  Finally, failure does not mean the end of the world.  This (flunking an exam paper)  is no big deal for us adults but perhaps its important enough for teenagers in this phase of their lives.  There are numerous news reports these days in the media where we learn about youngsters committing suicide for not landing the coveted medical college seat or for not clearing specific exams.    What is the point in getting into the best universities when you have not the strong will to face actual challenges in course of life?   Small small failures here and there are necessary that will serve like immunization shots when it comes to addressing bigger issues in life at a later stage.


My friend’s son in class X is already an IIT material that i can affirm with outright conviction right now.  He used to secure a 10/10 in all school tests and exams.  In one unfortunate session with his geography teacher, he expressed his dislike for the subject for which he was reprimanded lightly.  The school grades came out with CGPA 10/10 right through the academic year because parents basically could have access to the papers through the students.  But in came results for the recent board exams for Class X, my friend and her son were disappointed to find that the boy had secured a CGPA of 9.8/10 thanks largely to the geography teacher (anyone’s guess) who saw to that on record, the boy is ‘punished.’   There are maximum CGPA 10/10 in the city – a new record and its implausible that this super intelligent boy could have slipped by 0.2 points.  Okay after all the sermons about how we must take things in our stride both good and bad, what does it finally tell you?  What kind of teacher would want to ‘teach a lesson’ to a 15 year old boy even if he could be wrong, could have been wrong in arguing with his teacher, his superior,  in the first place?  I suppose the teacher derived the ultimate satisfaction in seeing the school topper skid by 0.2 points denied the coveted No.1 spot – for upsetting her in front of her class one fine day.

Being denied CGPA 10/10 really must hurt especially if you are a boy of 15 years.  Like my son, the boy learned a hard first lesson in life on human psyche.  Down, but not out.

(The inspiration for this title came from my friend when I confided to her my son’s flunking math paper.  These were her exact words: ‘our teachers need counselling first!’)


Which brought into our focus the sick mentality of the entire teaching fraternity we have today in our schools and colleges.   I come from a family of teachers.  My mother taught girls who were both hearing and speech impaired. She worked until the last day of her life and I can recall even today how vociferous she was when it come to protecting the rights and dignity of her students.  I remember her getting the girls left back in the hostel for ‘Diwali’ celebrations in our home because she could not imagine them spending the festival days holed up alone in dark blocks.  I remember a girl called ‘Rosy’ who lived with us for over a month after she finished schooling as she had no place to go.  Someone opted to marry her and he came home calling.  I remember my mother getting livid when the man mentioned something like ‘giving a life to Rosy.’  Like a mother-hen i remember my mom putting it succinctly to the man’s family how Rosy was not inferior to anyone by any means.  (The couple married eventually).

That is the height of teacher-pupil relationship i happened to see when i was a little girl.

My aunt also was a teacher and she served for a whopping 35 years in the same school.  I remember her trying to give a pass to the chanceless cases.  She would reason with me, ‘from my end i won’t stop them, let them go ahead and there will be enough hurdles for them to break their legs in future.  as a teacher i want to do nothing to discourage them in any manner and dampen their hopes and spirits.  Its not mere marks or grades.  Its the hope or lifeline i throw to the weakest of the lot.’  Says my aunt who was teaching a government school, her efforts helped in retaining many would-be school drop-outs in high school.   ‘Let them fail in the boards if they must, but atleast they would n’t quit until they take up the boards; and least of all i wouldn’t be the reason they quit’  My aunt is the most benevolent teacher i have seen in my life.  She used to go to school straight from chemotherapy and radiation sessions when she had her breast cancer – so her students would not miss a class.  I have seen her approach her girls with nothing but compassion.

What an attitude towards teaching.


I am not asking the teachers of today to be unreasonably generous the way my old fashioned mother and aunt were, but i do want them NOT TO HAVE AN AGENDA with the children who are many, many years younger to them like their own children.  For some weak children, it might break their spirit.

A reason a friend says for the current teachers’ psychology is that, today no teacher can take out a ruler and spank a misbehaving kid and that’s the real problem.   The teachers want to show their angst against the wards in a befitting manner teaching a lesson not only to their students but also to their parents.  And the message is clear.

I want to give here another side of the coin.

My son’s friend’s mother was also teaching ‘Hindi’ in their school.  A teacher with an impeccable career record of over 15 years, she singled out a girl and reprimanded her in front of the class for her poor grades.  The girl’s parents reported the incident to the principal  who summoned the teacher.  The teacher was asked to apologize to the girl in front of her parents and the principal because the school did not look favourably at a libel suit threatening them in the horizons.   The parents alleged that the girl was crest-fallen with her self-respect dashed in front of her peers and needed psychotherapy.  The parents themselves were offended by the high-handedness (!) of the class teacher.   So the teacher apologized for the sake of peace – but later resigned.  In which case  the school and the students lost a valuable teacher and the girl and the parents in the process got emboldened for all wrong reasons.  Imagine what the girl will grow up into in future.  The teacher with whom i happened to have a word told me in private, how she was planning  to ‘deal with children’ in future in the new school she was joining.  Apparently she decided to ‘take care of everything in the internals’ and who do we have to blame here.


So does this explain the psychology of our teaching fraternity of present times?  Teachers have a great role to play in shaping up the mind of the future generation of this nation.  Its high time our teachers are counselled first.  Whoever said ‘spare the rod and spoil the child?’  There can’t be a greater truth than this.   Parents should learn NOT TO BE OVER-SENSITIVE when it comes to school assignments and tests and teachers’ way of dealing with the students.  A balance has to be restored somewhere as to what length the teachers can go in this matter and where they must stop.  No child went blind or lost a limb in my memory because teachers in our times used rulers to keep us in our place.  I remember the times i had had to kneel down outside the class room (!) as well as stand on the chairs with raised hands for one or two periods for punishments.   Even  felt the scathing ruler in my palms once or twice.  But then my teachers were quick to forgive and forget.  The penalty was never wounding to the level of leaving bad vibes.   It was surface level never any deeper.   That momentary shaming of erring pupils by our teachers in front of the entire class was the bitter pill we  essentially needed to swallow to see to that we grew up into better citizens.  In a jiffy teachers and students were one happy schooling community.  There existed such a bonding between us in those days which is why we still have a healthy annual reunion with our teachers in the present day.

Where is such a teacher-pupil relationship today in this country, once famous for its Guru-Shishya relationship?

I am closing the topic with the adage that goes like ‘MATHA, PITHA, GURU, DEIVAM.’  ‘ Mother, Father, Teacher and then (finally) the God” is the order of respect and significance our scriptures prescribe for our adoption in life.  A Guru precedes even the One Supreme.  This is the respect we must accord to our teachers in our schools.  And teachers must on their part, rightfully earn such a grudging respect and dignity from every quarter.

I started blogging suggesting counselling for teachers but i would rather its for parents as well for the sake of their own ward.  I am for the ‘carrot and sticks’ always.  Its shocking to see how the sparing of  rod has spoiled our children and the grudge is later avenged quietly by the teachers on wards.  The basic trust factor is absent between the teachers and pupils.   This is not the way it must be.  Will we ever get back those golden days when teachers used to be students’ first role models?

One Comment

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Film Review: Bad Teacher | Curry Leaf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: